James McCullen XXIV comes from a long line of Scottish arm dealers. While he has allied himself -both personally and financially- with Cobra, Destro also maintains a public face as head of the family business, the M.A.R.S. corporation (Military Armament Research Syndicate).
His signature mask is also part of his family heritage, centuries ago one of his ancestors was caught selling weapons to both sides in a war and condemned to wear an iron mask as a punishment. He transformed this mask into the mark of the family and for each generation the family head is expected to don it when assuming control of the clan and the family business.
Destro was born in Callander, Scotland. He is Laird of Castle Destro located in the Scottish Highlands. As a business man he is sharp and relentless. He will hire mercenaries who will stir up in regions, which will then allow him to sell the companies high tech weaponry to which ever side will meet the prices. Additionally he will sell weapons to both sides in the same conflict, carrying on his families tradition.
As all the characters from the G.I.Joe franchise Destro was created as part of the toyline. His comic book self was created by Larry Hama and Bob Camp.
Destro was originally introduced as the field commander of the Cobra troops. According to Cobra Commander, Destro was meant to be the counterpart to Hawk as he was to General Flagg. At the time little was revealed of Destro - up to the point that for several issues his face was never shown - except that he and the Baroness knew each other already. Pretty soon it was revealed a romantic attraction between them and that Destro had joined Cobra to pursue his love for the Baroness.
From there things evolved in a very complicated way, Destro and Cobra Commander schemed against each other other several times, up until Cobra Commander brainwashed both Destro and the Baroness to ensure their loyalty. They were able to escape and eventually shake off the mind control, this put Destro in the mood to start severing his links to Cobra and later build his own private army, the Iron Grenadiers.
Over the years Destro has proved both an opponent and an ally for the G.I.Joe, while he usually side with Cobra or operates on his own, he had allied with them more often than any other Cobra agent, both to simply profit or to repay a debt of honour His sense of honour caused him to save the whole G.I.Joe team once from total shut down, by revealing the details of some weapon deals between M.A.R.S. and a certain shadow cabinet in the Pentagon.
Destro has a sense of honour and has a calm demeanour and loves Cobras second in command the Baroness, perhaps his loyalties lie with her. Though he appears to be loyal to no one and will enter battle either with or against Cobra with his own private army of Iron Grenadiers, depending on which is better for business. Though Destro respects the GI Joe team and their battle skills, he loathes them for wasting such skills on maintaining peace.
Abilities and Equipment
Destro is one of the most accomplished agents Cobra ever had, on the top of a full military training, he's an accomplished weapon designer, an expert strategist and a shrewd businessman. He also posses a considerable personal charisma, although this seem to dwindle at times, especially when the Baroness isn't around to motivate him.
Destro's signature equipment includes his beryllium steel mask, style after the crude iron contraption used by his ancestors, a fully armoured uniform and his wrist rockets. These are a piece of engineering unique to his gauntlets a pair of anti-tank grenades mounted on a pressure rocket system. These little rockets had proved to have enough power to tear a F-15 apart with a single shot.
Danger Girl/G.I. Joe
After the acquisition of the Danger Girl characters by IDW it was decided to first launch the characters under the IDW banner with a crossover with one of the major properties at IDW, G.I. Joe (as they are owned by the same company it seems possible that these characters exist in the same continuity, though this is never confirmed.) The series starts off with a dog chase involving Scarlett and Flint and they are soon shot down. It is revealed that they were providing escort for a shipment of rediscovered missiles with great destructive power.
They are soon shot down though and the missiles are taken by Cobra , who also take the two prisoners. Once in Cobra custody they come across Abbey Chase who is acting undercover, though the two members of G.I. Joe do not know this. Elsewhere the American president arrives to the USS Flagg and informs the Joe team to stand down and to not seek to free their teammates. General Flag orders them to stand down.
The remaining female members (Cover Girl, Lady Jaye and Jinx) come up with a plan where they will contact the Danger Girl team (Cover Girl had previously met Johnny Barracuda) The team shows up and exposes the U.S. president as Zarana in disguise. Soon enough it is revealed that the Danger Girl team already has an operative in place and she informs them of the plan. Firefly is to head to Moscow and detonate one of the missiles while Major Bludd is to go to Beijing to detonate another. Three teams head out, one to each of the two cities and the third to the Cobra base.
By now Abbey is under suspicion of Baroness, Cobra Commander and Destro and is captured by Zartan when she attempts to free Scarlett and Flint. While they are trying to escape a team of Low Light, Snake Eyes and Stalker arrive to free them. Meanwhile in Beijing a team of Jinx, Johnny Barracuda and Sonya Savage stop Major Bludd while a team of Sydney Savage, Cover Girl and Roadblock stop Firefly.
It is soon revealed that there is another missile which is headed for the homing beacon which Zarana has placed on the USS Flagg. Silicon Valerie, Duke and Lady Jaye quickly deal with it. Meanwhile at the Cobra base Storm Shadow has arrived to stop the Joes and he engages Snake-Eyes in combat. Eventually this group is also able to escape, while blowing up the base and they are all reunited on the USS Flagg.
In the British Action Force series published in Battle, Destro was originally a Latvian soldier, Anton Nobokov, who joined Action Force and was codenamed Jackal. The terrorist Red Shadows, led by Baron Ironblood, ambushed the vehicle he was driving and he crashed; on Ironblood's orders, the injured Jackal as retrieved from the wreckage and his life saved by bionic surgery, turning him into Ironblood's henchman, the Red Jackal.
When Ironblood subsequently betrayed the Shadows to Action Force, Jackal escaped, and soon after ran into Ironblood again, who had by this time reinvented himself as Cobra Commander. Cobra Commander overpowered Jackal and pressed him into servitude again, renaming him Destro.